With the NBA season still yet to resume and no resolution in sight, everything about the league is to be determined for the time being.
One of those aspects is the 2020 NBA Draft as no one knows how it will be conducted this year. With uncertainty surrounding the evaluation process and the actual draft, all anyone can do is speculate what will happen if everything is business as usual.
This means big boards and mock drafts are still coming in and Sam Vecenie is the most recent to release his at The Athletic. On his 100 player 2020 NBA Draft Big Board, four Kentucky Wildcats made the list all within draft range.
The highest name is Tyrese Maxey at #12. Although he has fluctuated all over the lottery throughout the season, Maxey has consistently stayed the Wildcat’s top professional prospect and has been a no-brainer to declare for the NBA Draft for awhile now.
Immanuel Quickley comes in next at #37. After proving his scoring ability, specifically from range, this season, Quickley may decide to remain in the draft in hopes of taking advantage of how high his stock got to end the season. Still, with the uncertainty of this process looming and the idea of being the lead guard next season in mind, Quickley could still return to Lexington and finish what he started, but with projections like this, fans should expect him to go pro.
The next Wildcat on the list is Ashton Hagans at #54. Hagans appeared in the first round of mock drafts for several weeks early on in the season, but that stock steadily dropped due to his poor play down the stretch of conference play. At his best, you can see a Patrick Beverley-type role for Hagans on any team. When he’s not, though, a late second round projection sounds about right. As much as he could use another season of college, it seems like he’s set on being a pro now.
Finally, Nick Richards landed at #57. Richards improved tremendously this season and, at one point, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that he would be leaving. Now, even with all his improvement, it’s not a sure thing he would be selected. Vecenie dove into that idea towards the end of his article as he included Richards in a group of 12 bigs who could come up short on draft night.
“One final note here comes on the class of bigs expected to be taken outside of the lottery in this draft. There are so many of them. Really, too many, given how teams utilize roster spots now. Simply put, I just don’t see teams deciding to use nearly half of those picks (between No. 20 and No. 50) on bigs in an NBA that is quickly downsizing and using fewer of its precious roster spots on centers. Especially ones that are projects. I would expect some of these players to end up dropping on draft night through no fault of their own. Some are safer than others, but don’t be shocked if a few of these guys are disappointed come draft night if they all end up deciding to stay in the draft,” said Vecenie.
EJ Montgomery’s name did not make it on Vecenie’s board. EJ and his family (specifically his father) may be content with the idea of him playing professionally anywhere, including the G-League, but to assume he’d be taken in the draft and make an NBA roster with all these questions looks to be a major gamble as of now.
We may not know much about how the draft will happen, but it will happen eventually and decisions will have to be made by these five players. Returning to Lexington looks like as safe an option as it ever has, but they’ve all earned the right to be able to make this decision about their futures for themselves and their families.
Until then, we all wait.